In the Winter 2018 issue of Fox Focus, readers were introduced to a group of Fox students who were among the first to participate in the school’s new and improved Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Core Curriculum. The curriculum was redesigned with innovation in mind and focuses on topics such as critical thinking, communication and quantitative reasoning skills.

Fox undergraduate students use these skills every day. The editorial team checked in with Nasir Mack, Meredith Orme and Robert Zurzolo to see what has changed for each of them in the last year.

Nasir Mack
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito

Nasir Mack, a business management major, has taken on more leadership roles in his extracurricular activities. He is now the strategic partnership coordinator of the Fox Student Philanthropic Society, and he is involved with the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, which is a diverse group of students working shape the school’s culture. He is also starting to explore whether he wants to major or minor in something that will build upon his creative, artistic side, such as Marketing.

“Last year, I was constantly grinding away and pushing for more and more. Now that I am more comfortable in myself and my education, I am learning to stride and pace myself,” Mack says.

Meredith Orme
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito

Meredith Orme, now double majoring in accounting and legal studies, is involved with student professional organizations (SPOs) on campus and is an intern for the Philadelphia Flyers. Since her freshman year, Orme discovered that she is interested in a career in forensic accounting.

“While my classes have taught me a lot, I think the most important skill I have learned is how to present myself,” Orme says. “I am much more sure of myself and confident in who I am and what I want. I am not only more confident in how I present myself, but in my set of skills. I’ve also learned how to communicate effectively and how to be much more straightforward.”

Robert Zurzolo
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito

Robert Zurzolo, after changing his major a few times over the course of the last year, decided on double majoring in finance and accounting in order to pursue a career in investment banking or private equity. Currently, Zurzolo is studying abroad at Temple University’s campus in Rome, Italy. In addition to attending classes and exploring Europe, he has gotten back to his hobby of playing soccer.

“I feel that I have grown as a student; I take more pride in my assignments,” he says. “During my time abroad I have become more appreciative of the opportunities that I have been given, both here and back at home, and it has also reaffirmed my desire to travel as much as possible in the future.”

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.

John Milligan
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito

 

In the early ’80s, John Milligan, BBA ’75, faced a choice: remain in a dead-end job or set out on his own. Milligan decided to move on, build his own diverse accounting firm and create opportunities for minorities. over 30 years later, his business Milligan & Company LLC is the largest minority-owned CPA firm in the Philadelphia region and a champion for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

As a teen in Norristown, PA, Milligan never thought about owning a business or attending college. He dropped out of high school after 10th grade and joined the Navy, serving for four years. After two years of junior college in California, Milligan returned to the Philadelphia area. On the recommendation of a friend, he enrolled at Temple University.

Being one of the few students of color in his classes, he felt out of place at school but he received support and guidance from his professors. They encouraged him to consider public accounting, connected him with employers and coached him through interviews. Milligan graduated magna cum laude with an offer from Coopers & Lybrand, the largest accounting firm in the city at that time.

Milligan left Coopers & Lybrand after nine years when it became apparent that leadership was not ready to make an African American a partner at the firm. However, his experiences there were formative. Not only did he learn the basics of public accounting and auditing, but he also learned about entrepreneurship and running small businesses.

“I had a mentor [Bruce Cohen] at Coopers & Lybrand who really helped me focus not only on becoming a good auditor but also being a good entrepreneur,” says Milligan. “So when I made my decision to leave, that experience and that mentoring really helped me prepare to start my own CPA firm.”

With his staffing choices, business practices and outside endeavors, Milligan has surpassed his initial goal to establish a more diverse accounting firm. Today, approximately 50 percent of Milligan & Company’s employees are minorities and 75 percent of the employees are women. He has made a commitment to support minority-owned businesses in his personal and professional life.  

One of the most important decisions he made was to get involved in government programs for small businesses and work with government agencies. Milligan & Company was, for a number of years, a member of the Small Business Administration’s 8(A) Business Development Program. This program offers a broad scope of assistance to firms that are owned and controlled at least 51 percent by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. After outgrowing the program, Milligan’s company now provides assistance to other businesses seeking 8(A) certification.

Milligan & Company managed the Philadelphia Minority Business Development Center for eighteen years. “That was very rewarding,” he says. “We helped literally hundreds of businesses with their business and marketing plans, and get bank loans.”

Milligan also created a nonprofit, the Greater Philadelphia Minority Business Strategic Alliance (GPMBA), a network of twenty organizations dedicated to promoting the growth of minority business enterprises with shared resources and collaboration. While GPMBA is no longer operational, one of their most important partnerships remains; Milligan sponsors SCORE, a network of expert business mentors, by providing them with office space in Center City.

Milligan’s interest in community service isn’t limited to his work with entrepreneurs and small businesses. He has served on the boards of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Norristown Area School District Education Foundation, and Montgomery Hospital in Norristown. He is currently the president of the Greater Norristown NAACP. The Fox School Department of Accounting will honor John Milligan with the Community Service Award at the 2019 Accounting Achievement Awards.

“It’s rewarding to be able to have an impact on people and their lives and know somehow you helped other people reach their full potential.”

This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.

A Class To Look Forward To

April 23, 2019 //
Photo by Ashley Smith of Wide Eyed Studios

The bell rings each day at 3:10 p.m. and Cameron Johnson leaves school for the class she looks forward to the most.

Over the course of her day at the Freire Charter School on Chestnut Street in Center City, the 17-year-old high school junior goes to math, biology, English, Spanish and civics classes. They are good classes. But she leaves school for one more class each day.

“This class is about teaching us to think needfully and to try to make things different on a daily basis,” Cameron says. “It’s about trying to create new ideas instead of thinking, ‘I can’t do this.’”

She takes the trolley to 15th Street, hops on the Broad Street Line, rides the train to the Cecil B. Moore station and walks to the Fox School. It is a 25 to 40 minute journey that ends when she sits down with a handful of other students in the Creativity and Innovation class taught by Michelle Histand, assistant director of strategic management and experiential learning at the Fox School.

Twice a week, she and 14 students from Freire and TECH Freire Charter School, on the 2200 block of North Broad Street, join a dozen students from Temple, where they are tasked with identifying a problem, creating a solution and planning how to implement that solution. The class is a joint venture put together by the Fox School and the Freire Foundation, which runs several charter schools in the Philadelphia region.

The idea for the class started with a conversation between Debbie Campbell, senior vice dean at the Fox School, and Hilda Bacon, director of community partnerships and engagement at Build the Future Education Collaborative. The collaborative is a nonprofit organization aimed at building partnerships to enhance education opportunities at the Freire schools. Campbell and Bacon wanted to create a class that would give the Freire students the tools and confidence to succeed in college, and train the Temple students to be mentors and leaders.

Photo by Ashley Smith of Wide Eyed Studios

“It is an opportunity at a local, well-known university,” Bacon says. “It is a comfortable situation and Temple is potentially accessible for most kids—a chance to give them the experience of what it is to be in school, to be in a college.”

Histand’s classes are hands-on and very team oriented. “This class is a chance for Temple students to put themselves in a leadership position, share their experience and guide and give feedback to their mentees,” Histand says. For the Freire students, it is a chance to get started in higher education. “When you put someone in that next level up, they have to perform at that next level up.”

The students are divided into pairs of mentors and mentees. Each team is working on a project together. One team is attempting to find a solution for the dearth of affordable, healthy food choices in North Philadelphia. Another team is designing an app that serves as an impartial local elections guide.

“If I had a class like this before I came to Temple, I would have been a lot more informed and not so unsure at the beginning,” Temple junior Jack Oatts, BBA ’20, says.

To get into the class, the Temple students had to write a letter to Histand, explaining why they wanted to be a mentor. The Freire students wrote an application and went through an interview process before being admitted to the program.

To enhance the course further, Campbell and Bacon are looking at adding several events, including a trip to a Philadelphia Phillies game and possibly visiting the rail park or a corporate partner. In April, Temple alumni and noted entrepreneur Adam Lyons, BBA ’09, was the first of what has evolved into a series of engaging guest speakers.

Campbell and Bacon envision growing the program. For Campbell, that means making the class, and possibly other general education classes, available to more high schools and more students. Bacon would also like to see similar programs across other schools in Philadelphia.

“This is about doing something for the community, for the city, for these kids,” Campbell says. “It is like Russell Conwell said, you have acres of diamonds in your backyard, you just have to find them. And we have all these schools in our backyard like Freire.”

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

When they met as freshmen in Hardwick Hall, Khadijah “Kay” Robinson, BBA ’04, and Kiana “Kay” Muhly, BBA ’03, had no way of knowing that they would grow and flourish as best friends and business partners.

Photo by Kay & Kay Group

During their time at the Fox School, they honed their skills, Kiana in accounting and Khadijah in marketing and entrepreneurship. They were both very involved with the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), a student professional organization (SPO). During their time in the organization, with Khadijah on the board and Kiana serving as the president of NABA, they worked together to expand the reach of the SPO, recruiting members who were not strictly pursuing careers in accounting but were looking to enhance their professional network and skills.

After graduation, Kiana began working in one of the big four accounting firms and became a licensed CPA in Pennsylvania. She gained real-world experience in internal and external audits with companies of all sizes, including an international nonprofit. Then, she left the corporate world to focus on her family and smaller business ventures. Khadijah built a successful career in procurement, project management and most recently working in real estate for the U.S. General Services Administration in Philadelphia.

Kiana and Khadijah remained close, bonded by friendship and a shared entrepreneurial spirit. As their individual careers took shape, so did their company Kay & Kay Group, a joint venture that they founded in 2014. The mission of the company is to create innovative products that function easily and solve everyday problems.

Their flagship product, Aqua Waterproof Headwear, was inspired by a common challenge that women face whenever a vacation or a rainy day rolls around: a fashionable way to go swimming or enjoy life without getting their hair wet. Once they had the idea to develop stylish, breathable and completely waterproof headwear, they did research and found that there was nothing else like it on the market. 

“We knew that we had a hit after talking through our idea with friends, family and focus groups. It resonated with everyone,” they say. “Not just African American women, but women across all walks of life. When we went to file a patent, even the agent loved the concept for Aqua Waterproof Headwear.”

Photo by Kay & Kay Group

They note that the key to their success while juggling their own families and careers is to treat Kay & Kay Group not as a side project or hobby, but as a business in its own right. Kiana and Khadijah have weekly meetings to discuss tasks, brainstorm new ideas and ensure that all “i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed when it comes to the quality and legitimacy of their product.  

“We work together well,” Kiana says. “I am all business. I take care of the accounting and licensing, and I am very strict. Khadijah is so creative and is great at connecting with people and building relationships. Our skills support and complement each other.”

When it comes to the future of their business, they are tight-lipped about the details but say,  “We are going to waterproof everyone’s lives.”

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

March is Women’s History Month. To celebrate, we are highlighting a few of the women who have inspired us by making an impact on their communities, careers, and the business world at large. 

For Dr. Leila Bouamatou, DBA ’17, women’s leadership in business is deeply personal

Dr. Leila Bouamatou graduating with her family

As the daughter of the founder of a family-owned bank in the West African country of Mauritania, Bouamatou studied the challenges that women in francophone Africa face when seeking to take over the family business during her time in the Fox Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program.

Bouamatou found that women’s biggest struggles included the institutionalized stigma of working outside the home; resistance from both older male and female members of the family, who were often unwilling to break with tradition; and the convention of women taking their husband’s last names, thus having a different last name than the family company.

To succeed in leading a family business in this environment, Bouamatou identified several key factors—such as modern-thinking fathers, supportive husbands, access to educational opportunities, and personality traits like determination and ability.

As the general manager at the Mauritanian General Bank, Bouamatou hopes to inspire young African girls and women to become leaders in business. She wants others to receive the encouragement that she felt at home from her parents and siblings. “I am particularly lucky to be the daughter of a modern-thinking father who has great respect towards women,” said Bouamatou, “and who believes in the potential of his daughters.” She recalls her mother teaching her from an early age about the importance of education and ambition.

Despite the barriers that remain, she sees hope for the future. “Africa is changing, and so is the mentality,” Bouamatou said. “Women are getting more and more educated and becoming more and more ambitious. Fathers are more and more supportive of their daughters and more open-minded, compared to previous generations.”

“I am fully aware that it would be hard for one single African woman to change the world,” said Bouamatou. “But I know that this African woman can shape her world and destiny.”

Nirmala Menon, MS ’91, International Change Agent

Nirmala Menon, MS ’91

Nirmala Menon, MS ’91, worked in the Global Diversity and Multicultural Team at IBM before becoming the founder and CEO of Interweave Consulting, a diversity and inclusiveness solutions company. At IBM, she experienced the diversity and inclusion challenges across various countries. The experience prepared her to found Interweave and lead it to be a pioneer in India, where the arena was a non-existent market when the company began operations.

Through Interweave, Menon works with companies to implement progressive policies to support diverse groups. The company has touched the minds and hearts of over 150,000 people, including senior leaders and managers through its workshops and initiatives. Others receive these messages through e-modules and webinars.

“Diversity and inclusion is still a new area of work in India and it is hard to provide a direct ROI on the efforts,” said Menon, addressing the impact of her efforts. “However, there are several anecdotes that show that the efforts have translated into positive behaviors at work. A better understanding of respectful behaviors at work and more conscious efforts at gender, disability, and LGBT inclusion are all, we believe, influenced by our efforts.”

When asked how she is making the world a better place, Menon said, “In my mind, everything we do dovetails into building a better world! The work we do has a tremendous positive impact as it is directly focused on building inclusion. From helping organizations understand the value of diversity and inclusion and helping to build enabling workplace policies to support the same, it has a direct impact for the nation.”

She believes organizations are powerful vehicles of change and teach people to become influencers. “A mind expanded or enriched with knowledge and sensitivity is bound to be applied not just at work but equally in their behaviors at home and in society.”

As a result, Interweave is building the foundations for social change in India and beyond.

Hosted by the Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT), the NBCUniversal Analytics Competition challenged students across Temple University to solve important industry-specific problems. In its sixth year, participants were asked:

  • How can media companies align with esports?
  • Why do pharmacies buy drugs from non-primary vendors?
  • Who are the winners and losers in healthcare funding and payments?

Roughly 354 students from six schools and colleges developed submissions in one of two categories: analytics or graphics. Finalists submitting analyses were judged based on presentation relevance, completeness, depth and consistency, while graphics were judged on clarity, novelty, insight and utility. The final judging and awards event took place on Nov. 13, 2018 in the Commons of Alter Hall at the Fox School of Business. The first, second, third and honorable mentions winners took home $12,000 in cash prizes.

“For this years Temple Analytics Challenge, we received some of the highest quality viral submissions in the six year history of the competition,” remarked Interim Dean Ronald Anderson of the Fox School of Business and School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management.

The winning team in the analytics category was comprised of students Jake Green, Sergio Aguilar and Rohit Bobby. They used analytics to identify which mainstream sport (soccer) was best aligning itself with the esports audience, and provided data-driven recommendations how major media companies can mirror that pattern of engagement and brand recognition. You can read the team’s full analysis here.       

“Our team really came together and worked hard to understand what it meant to ‘align’ with esports. For our team, the hardest part was to apply a particular outcome to the question. To do that, we reframed it and thought about how NBCUniversal could adapt and remain a leading platform for sports entertainment,” said Jake Green, a management information systems major.

The graphics competition winner was Xi (Cynthia) Cheng, a graphic and interactive design major. She developed a video to explore the demographic connections (such as gender, total viewership and age range) between viewers of esports and traditional sports in order to explain how media companies can use this data to develop appropriate advertising for both groups.

“I got inspiration, and selected elements from old school video games. I had different visions for traditional sports and esports, and used aspects of various games such as a Pokeball or a Super Mario power-up to illustrate statistics,” she explained.

“The drive of Temple students is inspiring,” said Laurel Miller, assistant professor of management information systems, IBIT director, and the co-founder of the Analytics Challenge. “It is unique that 354 students from across campus took the initiative to participate in a voluntary contest, learned how to interpret complex data and tools on their own, and prepared a time limited presentation for an industry judging panel. I was really impressed with the winners this year, their analysis and visualizations were so well done that they were able to provide new insights to an expert industry panel.”

Learn more about the Temple University Analytics Challenge.

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Steve Casper spent the spring of 2018 teaching his students about stocks, bonds, time value of money, cash flow and cost of capital. This does not sound unusual for a finance professor, except that particular semester he was on sabbatical in Cambodia.

Most of his students, who came from rural farms on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, had a limited academic background in finance. Many did not have a personal relationship with traditional financial institutions that Americans accept as commonplace, like banks and stock markets. Casper, associate professor of finance and managing director of the DBA program at the Fox School of Business, says, “It was the most challenging class I’ve ever taught, but it was so much fun.”

Since the summer of 2016, Casper had been volunteering his time teaching rural students in Cambodia. After first getting involved via Habitat for Humanity, Casper has built a relationship with these students, teaching finance and leadership during two-week seminars. Last spring, the director of the Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia, the leading English-speaking university in the country, asked Casper to teach a full semester.

“Most of these students have never had a calculator before,” says Casper, FOX PhD ’10. “I was told I had 30 students. I get over there and I brought 30 TI-BA II+ financial calculators. My wife was coming two weeks later and I said, ‘Liz, I have 54 students. I need you to bring another 24 calculators, I just ordered them on Amazon.’ Eventually, it got up to 94 students.”

This past October, four of these students came to Philadelphia for a week of leadership and business practice. The trip was organized by the Cambodian Rural Student Trust, an NGO founded in 2011 that aims to help bright Khmer, or Cambodian, students from poor, rural families go to high school and university in Cambodia.

Casper brought the students to meet with representatives from all over the financial world, from companies like SAP, B-Lab and Saul Ewing. He invited the students to speak to his finance classes at the Fox School. The Khmer students shared the story of their lives, which often included uneducated family members, the loss of one or both parents and financial hardships. But each had a strong, unrelenting belief in the power of education to transform lives.

Khmer students Doeb Chhay, Sinoun Lem, Sompeas Sokh, and Yeat Son.

One student named Sompeas, who is majoring in law and hopes one day to become a lawyer, shares her philosophy. “I believe men and women are equal. I believe education will provide women with the knowledge to believe this and give them the skills to follow their dreams, have amazing careers and be greater contributors to society.” She continues, “The special thing about this trip is that I can share my voice and bring back many ideas that will inspire other girls to be adventurous and ambitious, while also expanding how I see things in my small world.”

Casper is grateful to the Fox School for allowing him to expand his world as well through his sabbatical. Casper loves the opportunity to teach both his American and Khmer students. “I always wanted to do this,” he says. “To have great classes, you have to be thinking about it all the time—how can I make it better, how can I get this point across?”

His passion for education translates into his enthusiasm about the mission of the Cambodia Rural Students Trust. The completely student-run organization, Casper says, “can give a student a place to live, feed them, and pay for their college or high school,” all for $2,000 a year.

“In Cambodia, education is a privilege,” says Casper. “I am honored to be part of something that empowers students to lead themselves and lead society.”

Learn more about Fox School Research.

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

A roundup of media mentions featuring faculty, staff, and students from the Fox School of Business and the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management.

What’s Next For the Fox School of Business?

Dean Ron Anderson speaks with Business Because about the school’s centennial and his appointment as dean marking a new chapter in Fox history. “We’re going to use this as an opportunity to refocus the school,” he says. Read more>>

One Fox Student’s Dreams for Inclusivity

Shawn Aleong, a legal studies freshman, will study in San Francisco on a trip organized by the Fox School to learn digital and alternative financial services to further his advocacy efforts for inclusive business. Read more>>

The Odds of a Winning Ticket

Laurie Burns used her statistical reasoning and games of chance class to calculate the odds of winning October’s billion-dollar jackpot with Fox29. Watch now>>

Inquirer | October 19

David Schuff, chair of the Management Information Systems department, provides insight into how the rollout of SEPTA’s Key program led to an untold number of free rides since August. Read more>>

College Magazine | October 25

What does a financial advisor actually do? Cindy Axelrod, certified financial planner and assistant professor of practice in the Finance department, gives advice to college students interested in wealth management. Read more>>

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

On a brisk, fall morning, 30 crisply-dressed Fox School of Business graduates and friends gathered for a Breakfast With Fox & TWN event on the topic of executive presence, at Temple University Center City.

Over breakfast, Allison Francis Barksdale, EMBA ’00, CEO of RISE Leadership and a member of Temple Women’s Network (TWN), presented Executive Presence–Do You Have IT? How To Cultivate the IT Factor In You. She discussed the concept of authenticity, and when pressed had this to say:

“I don’t think authenticity is worn out as a buzzword. When we get to its essence, buzzwords should be retired when we have achieved a certain level of understanding and I view authenticity as being tied to integrity, in which we’re making progress but still have a long way to go.”

Barksdale shared a few tangible resources, including an online quiz, “Test Your Executive Presence”, and also encouraged attendees to lead with their values, and discover their own answers to the following three questions:

  1. What is executive presence?
  2. Why is it important?
  3. How can you cultivate it?

Ashley Rivera, IME ’18, was one of the millennials in attendance. She commented on how important networking opportunities were to her career progression and how crucial it was to  keep her network relevant after graduate school.

“I worked so hard for my degree—am I going to be a leader?” she wondered.

Like many other recent Fox School graduates, Rivera has experience working in startups and is hoping to create her own business. While at Fox, she attended events like the Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, which helped to instill her with a self-confidence that she could eventually turn an idea into a viable business.

“I know I can add value to a company with my leadership skills,” she said. “I have a diverse knowledge base and a strong group of supportive colleagues and former classmates.”

During her presentation, Barksdale—a certified life coach, encouraged people like Rivera to cultivate an executive presence by “ACE-ing” it.

Awareness, know what your skills are,” said Barksdale. “Commit to make changes in areas you’d like to improve. And exercise your new skills until you’ve achieved the desired level of improvement.”

Former risk management student Derek Jones, BBA ’09, walked away feeling inspired.

“Allison said things about expressing your personality and to use that as an advantage,” he said. “In previous jobs, I found that I didn’t fit the culture. I think it’s important to be self-aware and inspire change or make a change if necessary.”

Barksdale thinks current Fox School students should work on developing three specific leadership qualities in order to jump-start their careers.

“Students should invest in developing competence, poise, and emotional intelligence,” she said. “Those skills will really help them with self-awareness and control as managers and leaders.”

Next up for Fox networking events will be the Holiday Party, hosted by the Fox School of Business Alumni Association on December 13th, from 5:30-8 p.m at The Acorn Club (1519 Locust St.). Early bird tickets are available until 11/23 here.

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Professor Cindy Axelrod in the Capital Markets Room in Alter Hall | Photo: Joseph V. Labolito/Temple University

In partnership with Schwab Advisor Services, Charles Schwab Foundation has committed $352,000 to Temple University’s Fox School of Business to support the School’s financial planning program. Launched in Fall 2015, the Fox financial planning program has been one of the school’s fastest growing undergraduate degrees, with more than 300 registered students since the program’s launch, including 98 registered students in Spring 2018.

Charles Schwab Foundation’s gift will enable the Fox School to purchase and install state-of-the art technology to bolster the financial planning program’s online and remote capabilities.  Installation is slated for completion in Spring 2019. This investment in the School will effectively connect students with wealth managers, financial planners, and advisors to create awareness of the field and prepare students for futures in the registered investment advisor (RIA) industry; at a time when an estimated $30 trillion in assets is expected to pass between generations. Charles Schwab Foundation’s contribution will finance a 158-inch diagonal video wall, complete with two HD cameras for web video conferencing, ceiling pickup microphones, and JBL speakers, touch annotation monitors, and an LCD touch display with controls in Alter Hall, home of the Fox School of Business.

“We are proud to work with Temple University to shape and inspire the next generation of independent investment advisors,” said Bernie Clark, executive vice president and head of Schwab Advisor Services. “Access to cutting-edge technology and firsthand perspectives from professionals in the field will prepare students for successful careers in the independent investment advisor industry.”

“The generous support from Charles Schwab Foundation enhances our students’ academic and professional experience by enabling them to apply their classroom knowledge to the financial planning industry,” said Cindy Axelrod, director of the Fox School’s Financial Planning programs. “The enhanced investment in cutting-edge technology will allow students to directly connect with financial planning professionals without any physical or geographical constraints, giving them a first-hand understanding of the industry, so that they will be better prepared to enter the job market.”

The school introduced Financial Planning as an undergraduate major in 2015 to prepare students for careers in this in-demand field. Students who complete Financial Planning curriculum at Fox are eligible to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) examination upon graduation, a unique feature of the program. The Fox Department of Finance oversees the program, which also draws upon the expertise of faculty from Fox’s Legal Studies in Business and Risk, Insurance, and Healthcare Management departments.

“According to job and occupational outlooks, the field of personal financial advisors is growing much faster than other fields,” said Ronald Anderson, interim dean of the Fox School of Business and School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management. “I’m delighted that, thanks to our first-rate faculty and high-quality program, we are preparing so many talented, determined, and hard-working students to fulfill their desires for better life opportunities and career paths.”

About the Fox School of Business at Temple University

Established in 1918 and celebrating its centennial, the Fox School of Business at Temple University is the largest, most comprehensive business school in the Philadelphia region and among the largest in the world, with more than 9,000 students, more than 220 full-time faculty and more than 60,000 alumni around the globe.

The Fox School has a proud tradition of delivering innovative, entrepreneurial programs for the past 100 years. With facilities that provide access to market-leading technologies, the school fosters a collaborative and creative learning environment. Coupled with its leading student services, the Fox School ensures that its graduates are fully prepared to enter the real-world job market. Learn more at fox.temple.edu. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

About Charles Schwab

At Charles Schwab we believe in the power of investing to help individuals create a better tomorrow. We have a history of challenging the status quo in our industry, innovating in ways that benefit investors and the advisors and employers who serve them, and championing our clients’ goals with passion and integrity. More information is available at www.aboutschwab.com. Follow us on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and LinkedIn.

About Charles Schwab Foundation

Charles Schwab Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization funded by The Charles Schwab Corporation. Its mission is to create positive change through financial education, philanthropy, and volunteerism. More information is available at www.aboutschwab.com/community. The Charles Schwab Foundation is classified by the IRS as a charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Foundation is neither a part of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (member SIPC) nor its parent company, The Charles Schwab Corporation. Charles Schwab Foundation and Temple University are unaffiliated entities.

Photo: Dr. Alexander Vaccaro, president of the Rothman Institute. (Photo: Ryan S. Brandenberg)

In an evolving healthcare industry, prominent surgeons are choosing to pursue graduate business education—a trend that continues to grow nationally.

(Editor’s note: A version of this story first appeared in the Spring 2015 edition of Fox Focus, the school’s alumni magazine.)

It’s 4:30 a.m., and Alexander Vaccaro reaches for his alarm clock.

Soon after, he’s reading lectures and watching transcribed videos from the seat of a recumbent bike. The piece of exercise equipment doubles as Vaccaro’s classroom desk as he completes coursework during his daily workout.

An orthopaedic surgeon and spinal specialist, Vaccaro maintains a tightly organized schedule. He’s the Richard H. Rothman Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery at Jefferson University Hospitals and president of the Rothman Institute, an international leader in orthopaedic science, research, treatment, and technology. And he completed his Online Master’s of Business Administration through Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

Vaccaro estimated that he committed at least two hours daily to his Fox Online MBA. Often, it was more.

“I’m being honest when I say this: It’s one of the hardest and one of the most-rewarding things I’ve ever done,” said Vaccaro, who’s also a professor of neurosurgery and orthopaedic surgery. “You know what you do for a living. Getting your MBA helps you figure out why you do what you do, and you’re able to do it better.”

Vaccaro is one in a growing number of accomplished medical professionals, with a slew of letters following their surnames, who supplemented their clinical educations with a business education at the Fox School.

The reason? As the landscape in American healthcare continues to evolve, medical professionals like Vaccaro are learning that one of the greatest issues in their field is a business-related one.

“I was brought up thinking about care for the individual. Now I have to care for the system that cares for the people,” Vaccaro said. “I almost think an MBA should be mandatory for clinicians. When you get into medicine, you need courses on how to run a program, and you need background skills in operations, marketing, law, ethics, and communication. Those in medicine who plan to lead need an MBA.”

Healthcare spending in the United States reached $3.3 trillion in 2016, or 17.9 percent of its gross domestic product. And that figure is expected to continue climbing. Physicians equipped to tackle the challenges of operating a medical facility, in relation to both patient treatment and business management, are in high demand.

According to a 2011 U.S. News & World Report study, hospitals run by trained physicians earned quality scores that were 25 percent stronger than hospitals run by management. Having a physician who is capable of balancing a budget and managing personnel “is more than valuable. It’s indispensable,” said Dr. Steven Szebenyi, the former chief medical officer and senior vice president of healthcare management with Health Partners Plans, a not-for-profit health insurance organization in the Philadelphia region.

Szebenyi, in his former role, oversaw all clinical aspects of Health Partners Plans, reporting to the company’s chief executive officer and senior team, managing a staff of nearly 200, and overseeing its budget, among other duties. The push for a business education among the nation’s top healthcare workers can influence hiring practices, Szebenyi said.

“I look for someone with more than clinical experience,” Szebenyi said. “I look for someone with administrative training, additional training, or both. That need is only going to continue to grow. With this shift from volume-driven healthcare to value-driven healthcare, you see more and more physicians taking more prominent roles and leadership positions.”

A gathering of more than 700 of the nation’s preeminent business and healthcare executives at the University of Miami’s “The Business of Healthcare: Bending the Cost Curve” conference in January 2014 concluded that the challenge of lowering overall costs while raising the quality of care remains. And in November 2014, Todd Kislak, who boasts a decade of healthcare management experience, told Bloomberg Businessweek that the issue boils down to “the coats vs. the suits. What you need is people who can wear both.”

Dr. Javad Parvizi, Rothman Institute director of clinical research; Dr. Alexander Vacarro; and Rothman Institute founder Dr. Richard H. Rothman. (Photo: Ryan S. Brandenberg)

Temple’s Fox School of Business is preparing physicians to do that. A number of high-ranking surgeons have completed the Fox Online MBA program, which combines technology, collaboration, and real-world experience, so professionals in any industry can balance the rigors of continued education, full-time employment, and family.

Like Vaccaro, Dr. Cataldo Doria earned his Online MBA at the Fox School.

For years, Doria, the director of the Jefferson Transplant Institute and the Division of Transplantation at Jefferson University Hospitals, said he had considered a graduate degree in business administration, before choosing Fox for its “top-notch reputation,” he said. “Medicine is changing so much and so fast, and unless you really understand the economics and the business of it, you’re going to be left behind,” said Doria, the Nicoletti Family Professor of Transplant Surgery.

Three other physicians who earned their Online MBAs from the Fox School have noted immediate gains professionally as a result of their recently attained business credentials.

When Dr. Vani Dandolu had elected to pursue her Online MBA, clinical colleagues said she had swayed “to the dark side,” said the chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Nevada School of Medicine. Instead, Dandolu viewed the program as an opportunity to learn business-world language without having to give up her stake in academic medicine.

“I get more credibility, my opinions are taken more seriously and, really, I would not have been a serious candidate for my current position if not for my additional degrees,” said Dandolu, also the ObGyn residency program director and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Nevada. “I was very clear on what I wanted to get out of my MBA and I believe that focus is critical when you are pursuing any new venture.”

Philadelphia-area surgeons Dr. Aron Wahrman and Dr. Daniel Dempsey, who attained their Online MBAs at Fox, agree. As clinical assistant professor of surgery at Penn Medicine, Wahrman sees a benefit to giving the program’s top medical students and residents a taste of business education.

Dr. Aron Wahrman. (Photo: Ryan S. Brandenberg)

“I think traditional curriculum, which mainly focuses on scientific and clinical curriculum, does them a disservice,” said Wahrman, who earned his Fox Online MBA in 2011. “With everything that’s going on in healthcare, the patient is expecting quality and value, and an MBA gives you a broader perspective on topics pertaining to that. Moreover, you can’t just give (administrative duties) to people in healthcare who aren’t as vested in taking care of patients or in making decisions at the individual and community level. That’s why I think pursuing a Fox Online MBA was a good fit.”

Dempsey is professor of surgery, chief of gastrointestinal surgery, and assistant director of perioperative services at the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to commencing his Fox Online MBA studies, he said he possessed a basic knowledge of a hospital’s business operations, but “by no means was I an expert.” He said he’s since been able to complete financial analyses on greater returns on how his hospital spends, and better understand profit loss and cash flow, as a result of his most-recent degree.

Like Dandolu and Wahrman, Dempsey said he faced vilification from his colleagues in medicine.

“The common reaction was, ‘What’re you doing that for? You’ve been doing aspects of administration for years,” he said.

And Dempsey’s reply?

“I have one foot in each camp now,” said Dempsey, who earned his Fox Online MBA in 2011. “Having an MBA, especially one from Fox, trains you to be a more-effective messenger between these two large arenas. Suddenly, you’re able to help non-clinical administrators understand a surgeon’s point of view, and you also are more able to help the clinicians understand how an administrator sees something.

“Overall, that business education facilitates greater communication between the two sides.”

The responses Dempsey received are somewhat commonplace. In a 2005 research paper written by Dr. Windsor Westbrook Sherrill, professor in public health sciences at Clemson University, students reported uncomfortable exchanges with doctors who saw them as “traitors” for having enrolled in a joint MD/MBA program. Sherrill, whose research has concentrated in medical education, identified a critical “gap in training,” when it comes to clinical leaders who lack business education.

“The real driver is the financial constraints of healthcare today,” she said. “In fee-for- service medicine, there wasn’t a push for cost efficiencies. Reimbursement services have changed. There was a time when you didn’t have to worry about cost. You’d be reimbursed no matter what you charged. It’s gotten more important in healthcare to be cost-conscious. There’s more regularity around quality and accountability measurement, from payers and policymakers.”

Dr. Maria Chandler, the president of the Association of MD/MBA Programs (AMMP), said nearly 70 dual-degree programs exist in the United States. One of them is housed at the Fox School, through which dual-degree students pursue the Fox Online MBA. The program, which can be completed in less than two years, employs a flipped-classroom model.

The program features what Fox has coined “a curriculum carousel,” which provides multiple entry points throughout the calendar year. Students can pursue the degree at their pace, and can register for one or up to three courses per semester. Each course is delivered one at a time over four weeks, and the program can be completed in as quickly as 20 months.

The program-opening residency features a leadership course, networking and team building opportunities, professional development workshops, and special events.

As Chandler sees it, the overlap between the two industries is “larger than people think,” and necessitates a foundational business education.

“I’ve seen surgeons without business training stand up in meetings, and say they need new equipment for one reason or another,” Chandler said. “And when they are asked, ‘How do you suggest we pay for that,’ the surgeon can’t make a business argument.

“Then, I’ve seen others who say, ‘If you double throughput through our department, the piece of equipment would pay for itself in X amount of months.’ Now, all of a sudden, the surgeon has the CEO’s ear and can get what he or she wants. And that’s just a small sampling of what a business education can do for a medical professional.”

A dual-degree program, according to Chandler, gives students the skills, vocabulary and applicable training to succeed in both arenas following attainment of their degrees. In her leadership position with AAMP, Chandler said she has come into contact with a wide array of scholars who were thankful for the joint education, executives who wished they’d had it, and a small subset of those who don’t see the value in it.

“I once met a surgeon who was in charge of a $6 billion budget and had absolutely no business training,” she said. “In what other industry would someone be tasked with managing a budget of that size and have no business training? That’s the current state of the healthcare industry.”

Vaccaro, the orthopaedic surgeon and Rothman Institute president, said he did not want to be left behind within his evolving field. Pursuing an Online MBA at Fox allowed him to supplement his medical know-how with the ability to, in his words, “speak the language” of the business community.”

“I’m a much-better leader today because of Fox’s program,” Vaccaro said. He earned an MBA, he said, “to run a healthcare system, to improve its quality, and to make it more accessible and affordable. We have to start to control the healthcare system, and that’s what a business education can do for someone like me.”

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I’m sitting in the middle of the dining area at the Temple University Main Campus location of honeygrow—the health-forward, fast-casual, customizable salad and stir-fry restaurant—strapped into a Google Daydream VR headset. In reality, I’m swiveling wildly and waving my arms like a lunatic. In virtual reality, I’m moving ingredients around—a cartoon chicken, an oinking pig, and a cheese wheel—to various shelves inside a walk-in refrigerator. It’s fun. I’m also learning quite a bit about food safety regulations.

This is one of the scenes in the VR experience honeygrow uses to onboard new employees. Created in collaboration with the Philadelphia-based experiential art shop Klip Collective, it’s the latest tech-savvy move from the company founded by CEO Justin Rosenberg, MBA ’09. When Rosenberg developed the business plan for honeygrow while studying at the Fox School, tech was an essential component, namely the automated kiosks that simplify the ordering process while creating a uniquely interactive experience for customers.

Honeygrow opened in 2012 and now has 23 locations in nine cities, including New York, Chicago, and Boston. Since honeygrow is constantly onboarding new employees, it wanted to develop an innovative, efficient way to teach newbies the ropes. Kyle Brown, honeygrow’s director of operations, estimates that about 100 people will take the VR training each year. He claims turnover has already dropped and employees are earning required training certifications at a significantly higher rate.

“Technology is not a silver bullet to stand out, but rather an  operational enhancement to better streamline the experience for both guests and team members.” – Justin Rosenberg, founder and CEO of honeygrow

The first thing I see once jacked into the VR experience is Rosenberg welcoming me to honeygrow. Next I observe employees as they prepare menu items on the salad and noodle line. Then I’m thrown into the interactive walk-in exercise. I learn all about how raw pork and raw beef should not be stored together. I also witness an employee providing fantastic service to customers in a virtually crowded honeygrow dining room.

Virtual reality is a buzzing topic in the news, so using this technology in an inventive way has earned honeygrow attention from publications like Wired, The Washington Post, and Entrepreneur. In addition to optimizing new employee training and relations, it elevates the honeygrow brand by showing how much they value experimenting with new technology. And honeygrow’s success in virtual reality is raising the real bar—months after announcing its VR strategy, major companies like Kentucky Fried Chicken have jumped onboard to do the same.

“Technology is not a silver bullet to stand out, but rather an operational enhancement to better streamline the experience for both guests and team members,” explains Rosenberg. “It’s critical to be constantly searching for ways to thoughtfully and purposefully be better than our competition. And we love to figure out ways to be better than we were yesterday.”

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Ariell Johnson, BBA ’05, at Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse. (Photo: Ryan Collerd)

When Ariell Johnson, BBA ’05, was a kid growing up in Baltimore in the 1980s she cut comics out of newspapers, glued them to construction paper, and tried to sell them.

Back then, there was no way of knowing she’d one day open a comic book shop, Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, in Philadelphia. Or that Ira Glass would interview her there for an episode of “This American Life.” Or that MacArthur Fellow Ta-Nehisi Coates and Civil Rights Movement icon and Congressman John Lewis—both of whom have recently been involved in comics, with the Black Panther series and March, respectively—would visit and stroll Amalgam’s shelves. But even as a kid, Johnson was a gifted entrepreneur and her family knew she was destined for something amazing.

“I always marched to my own drum and I was always business-minded,” recalls Johnson. “My mom would joke that she’d never have to worry about me being broke because I’m a hustler. I had a very crafty grandma who taught me how to knit and crochet and embroider. And anything I learned how to do, I’d try to make money from it. I would even make things out of Play-Doh and sell them. I’ve always been entrepreneurial.”

When Johnson moved to Philadelphia to attend Temple University, she initially wanted to study dance. But her sister, an actuary, convinced her to major in accounting at the Fox School. After graduating in 2005, she briefly worked in retail and as a bookkeeper for a nonprofit and a local community newspaper. She considered becoming a certified public accountant, but the thrill was gone.

“I enjoy accounting,” she explains, “but I couldn’t do it all day, everyday. There’s a part of me that loves sitting and staring at spreadsheets, but I need a creative aspect to my work.”

Johnson, while a student at the Fox School, had the idea of opening a comic book shop. She’d fallen in love with comics after watching the X-Men cartoon in her youth—especially the character Storm—and she dove headfirst into Philly’s comic book scene. She became a regular at Fat Jacks Comicrypt. After scoring new books, she’d read them over hot chocolate at the nearby coffee shop, Crimson Moon.

“I loved nerding out in public,” she says, “and being at a coffee shop thumbing through a comic was really cool. When Crimson Moon closed, I had the idea for Amalgam. I didn’t have a place to go, so I thought it would be great if the comic book store were a coffee shop and a community space, too. That was the rough idea, but I was still in school then and not thinking about it too seriously. It was my pipedream.”

It took a terrible tragedy to push Johnson’s plan forward. When her mother died, it caused her to re-evaluate her life goals. She decided she needed to do something daring, something that would make her happy, and so she grabbed her dream and ran with it.

Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse. (Photo: Ryan Collerd)

In December of 2015, Amalgam Comics & Coffeeshop opened its doors along the Frankford Arts Corridor in the Kensington neighborhood. The space is hip and fun, with exposed brick walls, high ceilings, industrial flourishes, colorful furniture, and thousands of comics. She knew it was wise to diversify, and so Amalgam includes a coffee shop where people can read and sip hot chocolate, just like Johnson did back in the day.

Amalgam is much more than just comics and a café. There are nightly events, including readings, workshops, signings, open mics, comedy shows, and book clubs. The program calendar at the store is already jam packed, and business is about to get even busier. Earlier this year, Amalgam was one of 33 projects chosen to win a prestigious Knight Foundation grant. The project? Creating Amalgam University.

“It’ll allow us to have dedicated, enhanced space for programming,” Johnson says about the grant. “Our hope is to create a multipurpose room and to provide affordable comic book education, including writing, penciling, coloring, and professional development, such as how to pitch comics and put together a portfolio. We’ll especially be targeting underrepresented groups, including people of color, women, and people from the LGTBQ community.”

It’s been an exceptionally busy first two years. Johnson has juggled running the shop, managing nine employees, expanding the business and programming, and fulfilling dozens of interview requests from the press. In addition to being interviewed by Glass, she has been featured in articles by NPR, The Philadelphia Inquirer, CNN, and The New York Times. One question everyone asks her is when she’s opening another store.

“I’m making sure this one’s sustainable before I think about opening a new one,” she laughs. “We’re still a very small business, so I’m watching everything that’s going out and coming in, and if I know the store’s going to be quiet, I’ll work a shift by myself. We’re expanding so fast, but when I first saw this building, I knew immediately I wanted to turn it into an educational space. I had all these ideas, but I never dreamed we’d be able to do them so quickly.”

“And now it’s all happening.”

Ariell Johnson. (Photo: Ryan Collerd)

What Ariell’s Reading

Godshaper, by Simon Spurrier and Jonas Goonface

“It takes place in a world where the rules that govern science and technology stop working, so there are no modern conveniences. Instead, everyone has their own personal god that fulfills what technology used to. The class of people capable of shaping gods are godless themselves, and live as vagabonds, so there are interesting parallels with current events, mainly discussions about immigrant workers.”

Frostbite, by Joshua Williamson and Jason Shawn Alexander

“It’s a post-apocalyptic world where scientists were trying to fix global warming but they messed up and froze the world. The new currency’s heat, and frostbite is this highly contagious disease where people turn to ice. To reduce chances of spreading it, they have to burn entire cities down. It’s interesting because there are still people denying climate change today, and who knows where we’ll be in 20 years.”

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The talented, diverse, and driven Class of 2021 at the Fox School of Business are poised to become the next generation of innovators and business disruptors. They arrive highly-accomplished and are excited to hone their skills with the help of our top-tier faculty, market-driven curriculum, and professional development opportunities.

In fall 2017, the Fox School redesigned the Bachelor of Business Administration Core Curriculum to weave critical thinking, communication, and quantitative reasoning skills into the fabric of core business knowledge. The redesign team continues to work with students, alumni, faculty, staff, and employers to integrate these skills across the curriculum to better position Fox undergraduates for success post-graduation. These four freshmen are among the first to participate in the enhanced curriculum.

Watch the video below and read on to learn more about these four freshmen who are ready to change the world.

Nasir Mack

  • Hometown: Philadelphia
  • Age: 18
  • Major: Business Management
  • Career goals: CEO, creative director, project manager
  • Hobbies: Public speaking, reading, writing
  • Hidden talent: Making music, playing violin

Meredith Orme

  • Hometown: Royersford, Pa.
  • Age: 18
  • Major: Business (declaring Accounting)
  • Career goals: Grad school, then Certified Public Accountant
  • Hobby: Competitive horse rider
  • Hidden talents: “I can bake pretty well and I love to make handmade gifts!”

LJ Troilo

  • Hometown: Havertown, Pa.
  • Age: 19
  • Major: Entrepreneurship, Marketing
  • Career goals: Serial entrepreneur, thought leader
  • Current businesses: Symbie (social networking app) and eThree (sales engagement platform)
  • Claim to fame: Joined rapper Travis Scott onstage at concert and knew every word

Robert Zurzolo

  • Hometown: Medford, N.J.
  • Age: 19
  • Major: Finance, Entrepreneurship
  • Career goals: Wealth management sales or investment banking firm in mergers and acquisitions
  • Dream: “To retire from the financial field after 15 to 20 years and work as a high school math teacher in my hometown.”
  • Current business: Has run landscaping company, Robert Z Properties LLC, since freshman year of high school
  • Hobby: “I love to travel. I went to Switzerland this fall and Italy this summer.”
  • Hidden talents: Good cook and ping pong player
Learn more about Fox School undergraduate programs.
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Allison Francis Barksdale at the 2017 Temple University League for Entrepreneurial Women Conference. (Photo: Melissa Kelly)

Imagine being thankful your husband allowed you to attend a business meeting. Many of you probably rolled your eyes, but this used to be a common occurrence. While we’ve come a long way, we still have far to go to achieve a diverse and inclusive workforce.

The good news is many women are creating their own paths through entrepreneurship.

According to the 2016 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity, women comprise 40 percent of new entrepreneurs in the U.S. At the Temple University League for Entrepreneurial Women Conference, hosted by the Fox School of Business at Alter Hall, we learned that many of today’s female executives are building diverse and inclusive organizations.

The League, which holds an annual conference, is an advocacy initiative that addresses the growing challenges and interests of entrepreneurial women in the Greater Philadelphia region. It was co-founded by Dr. Elizabeth Barber, associate dean of Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, and Betsy Leebron Tutelman, senior vice provost for strategic communications. The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), under the leadership of Ellen Weber, executive director, co-hosts the event.

Fox Focus spoke to two of the conference speakers. Here is the advice Judith von Seldeneck, founder and chairman of Diversified Search, and Allison Francis Barksdale, EMBA ’00, CEO of RISE Leadership, have to offer women who want to start their own companies.

What advice do you have for women starting their own business?

Judith von Seldeneck: Have a good idea for your business. Something that fills a viable, current need. Take it slow, one step at a time. Stay in control of it. Be wary of partners or owners. There’s time for that down the road. Do the work yourself. No delegating early on; hire others to work for you when you can afford it. Have someone you trust who has no interest in the business but who is smart, good at things you aren’t, who you can learn from. You must learn it somehow early on if you don’t have it.

“I know that the inclusion of additional voices—diversity—will lead to better decision making in our global economy.” – Allison Francis Barksdale

Allison Francis Barksdale: I thought I had to do it all on my own. It is so much easier now that I am willing to seek help and follow the examples of others who are experts in areas where I am not. It isn’t always necessary to reinvent the wheel. You can find mentors and other resources. Take advantage of all that is available. You can learn from things on social media (such as LinkedIn), your alumni association (such as the Temple Women’s Network), and lots of other opportunities.

We’ve seen some inspiring stats about women in business. How do you feel the world has changed for women over the last few decades?

JVS: When I started, I was almost a unicorn, constantly dealing with men, competing with men, which I actually enjoyed being the only woman. Now I am surrounded by strong, successful, younger, executive women, and there is indeed encouraging news for women in business: over the last decade, the number of women-owned firms increased 45 percent, compared to just 9 percent for the national average. Female ownership of businesses is up almost 10 percent over the last decade. But there is also one big, troubling statistic to go with all of that cheery news: Women start 38 percent of new businesses, but still only receive between 2 and 6 percent of all venture capital funding. That’s an issue because it tells me that banks and venture capitalists still do not see women as solid leaders and their businesses as solid investments. There is more work to be done, especially on the VC side of the ledger.

However, I believe the momentum for women has turned a corner very recently and we are much more integrated, respected, capable, savvy, and confident as people, not just women, in our abilities to succeed in building and growing businesses! Today, we have great successful women role models like never before. Plus, women now want to generally help each other be successful.

“I can’t think of a better career path for women than owning your own business.” – Judith von Seldeneck

AFB: We have made great progress! The biggest change I see is that women are leading as they are. When I was coming into the workforce in the late 1980’s, women wore bowties and power suits and acted like men. Today, women are leading with feminine power. I am a big proponent of authenticity. My company, RISE Leadership, helps women build their impact and income through authentic leadership. To be the best speaker, leader, or anything, you have to be yourself. You can’t be anyone else better than you can be yourself. That’s what truly creates connection and power.

Judith von Seldeneck at the 2017 Temple University League for Entrepreneurial Women Conference. (Photo: Melissa Kelly)

How should companies respond to this change to cultivate more diverse and inclusive staffs?

JVS: Any company that wants to develop a diverse and inclusive staff has to make that commitment from the top: at the board level, at the CEO level. If there are not clear and strong mandates from leadership to install mechanisms and performance metrics to produce a more inclusive workforce, particularly at the C-Suite level, it’s all lip service. It doesn’t happen organically. It happens when people in power make a conscious decision to open their doors wider, and implement policies and procedures that are fair and direct and will produce that result. How are you scouting for new talent—and where are you looking? You cannot tap new talent streams if you are only going to look in the same places you have been looking for the past 30 years. You should also hire Diversified Search to help find great talent!

At the conference, you said your path has been like the Game of Life. Can you translate your experience into advice for future generations of women in business?

AFB: My entrepreneurial journey was not a straight path to success. The first business I started failed. I opened a flower and tea shop in 2005, which could not weather the economic downturn in 2007. People were losing their homes, so they were not buying a lot of small luxuries. As in life, things don’t always go as planned. There is an element of chance. If you take a look at the board in the Game of Life, the roads have lots of curves, twists, and turns that you cannot always anticipate.

As for advice, I learned to never stop believing in myself. Above all else, you cannot give up on you! Deciding to take an entrepreneurial path will push you to grow in ways that you never anticipated. If you stay focused on success, there may come a time when you have to say to yourself, “Okay I am not letting this defeat me. Where’s the good in this, the lesson that I can learn and move on?”

You have to be willing to see your vision of success differently than how you planned it. Rather than going into business to do and make money, focus more on serving and solving problems that you are designed to solve best. Enjoy the day-to-day and not just the final outcome of your future success. Whatever happens along the way, good or bad, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow, personally and professionally.

What will the future hold for women in entrepreneurship and business?

JVS: I can’t think of a better career path for women than owning your own business. The future is bright and getting brighter. There are now 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 9 million people and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues. Those kinds of statistics would have been an unthinkable pipedream 40 years ago. Time heals many misevents. Sometimes it takes longer than we would like. Technology is leveling and normalizing the playing field everywhere and disrupting long-established traditional practices in one fell swoop. I think there is a tremendous benefit for women in business in this explosive transformational environment that is happening so quickly. We need to be riding this tidal wave that is disrupting business everywhere.

“Deciding to take an entrepreneurial path will push you to grow in ways you never anticipated.” – Allison Francis Barksdale

AFB: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Generally, a company will take on the values of its leaders, especially in the case of entrepreneurs. As in my case, authenticity and speaking up are personal as well as organizational values. It’s exciting to see how more and more women are igniting their power and speaking up. Women are leading in various ways—in small businesses, corporations, politics, and nonprofits (I prefer the term for-purpose). Even though we still have quite a ways to go, especially in corporate and board leadership, I know that the inclusion of additional voices—diversity—will lead to better decision making in our global economy. Women will play a key role in building a more inclusive, cooperative, and optimally functioning workforce. I plan to do my part to make this happen.

To continue the dialogue on women in business and leadership, feel free to contact Allison: Allison@ImpactwithRISE.com

The Future of Business is Female

The following Temple students and alumnae pitched their companies at the conference:

  • Jess Rothstein, Fox MBA, Class of 2018, Play Bucket, playbucketapp.com
  • Emily Knight, Engineering major, Class of 2018, Prohibere, biomaterix.com
  • Karima Roepel, MTHM ’06, Ambrosia Food Group, ambrosiafoodgroup.com

The Fox School of Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) proactively promotes entrepreneurial spirit throughout all 17 schools and colleges at Temple University. IEI offers many years of experience in business development and consulting, a wide variety of skills, extensive networks, and boundless enthusiasm for new ventures and experiential learning.

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